Month: August 2016

The swimming lesson

It was summer; we were little,

My friend’s name was Sal.

We played, minding our own business,

When her dad called her to the side of the pool.

He reached across to her, picking her up by her arms

And dropped her into the water.

She couldn’t swim

And he had decided, at that moment to surprise her

And have her learn.

I stood by the edge and watched her sink.

It was beautiful.

She was so resigned to the fate

She sank slowly; the water bubbled lightly,

Her eyes wide open as down she went.

The pool seemed infinitely deep.

Her hair floated like snakes around her head

Her hands outstretched so sadly, pleading

Like Ophelia.

Goodbye. I remember thinking goodbye.

Her father reached into the water

And plucked her out, back into the air.

Sal took some deep breaths

Lightly coughing- but quiet

Well behaved and accepting.

The father was angry

He cursed at her and turned away as if she had failed.

I went to her, but she wouldn’t speak

She was changed after that; she began to grow up

An adult coldness began to grow inside her.

I’ll never forget her eyes as she sank

Se clear, so wide, like looking into the universe

As the universe looks back.

Beautiful and Smart

She was a city lawyer,

Beautiful and smart, she was all that the city holds up as prime.

She killed herself.

Her body was found in the trees behind her house, a thick group of trees

Where people go to sniff paint and dump rubbish.

Her body was found by a man involved in the search,

She was in the tree where she took an overdose of some drug.

She was found folded over a branch, her beautiful long blonde hair hanging down like gold

But her skin was turning purple.

They suggested she killed herself

Because some foolish man had ended a relationship with her,

And she was so upset she could see no over way.

But she was so beautiful

And smart.

Perhaps things were too much for her

Perhaps the pressure was too much

And the bolts came out, letting the cold water flood in. I think she was tired,

And so she ended it all.

I knew a girl once who said

You shouldn’t write about beautiful girls

Because it’s so clichéd; but I’ll write about beautiful girls all I want.

She was beautiful and smart

And she killed herself.


That Queen, The Moon.

She started to stay away,

That beautiful woman,

And she didn’t share with me those sweet secrets she used to,

So the terrible feeling crept in like winter wind under the door.

I set out to a friend’s farm to keep away for a while.

I would lay awake in the morning, watching the sun arrive

Pressing against my open window, putting a foot inside warming what he touched.

Early, early, I would set out across the dew-wet grass,

toward the mountains, toward the pine forests.

Even as the sun rose, the moon still sat in the sky,

Like a queen, not moving, not being told to leave,

But pleased herself to walk in night dripping with diamonds

And to stay in the day, watching over that fool, the sun.

Slowly she would leave, unhurried, in her own time

To sleep in her private chambers over the hills.

In the forests, I could breathe, rest alone and witness the forest animals,

Like spirits

Dancing across the fallen logs and up the sides of ancient trees.

I listened to the silent streams and watched for fish.

I knew that without her life continued,

And no one is irreplaceable. 

Except for the moon, the moon alone is unique.

These are the poets

Poems are born from wild times,

From struggle, love and anger,

from men with soft hearts and hard fists,

from women whose smiles are like gold,

whose dreams are larger than the moon

And harder to reach.

Poems are not soft or weak,

They die if given 9 – 5 jobs

And secure homes with understanding friends.

Poems live at 2 am, drinking liquor and waking up in strange rooms with strange people

They live on new cities, tough attitudes,

Unplanned journeys, tall beautiful women on short dark streets

And fist fights with broken glass in their mouths.

Poems don’t live with old men who never danced in the fire

They don’t share a bed with someone who has never been broken

Poems see the devil and laugh.

Silas the famous poet, leaped from the ship at Troy

and dug his feet into the sand, his eyes surveyed the lines of men

heavy with shields and crazed with spear.

The sound of armed men crashing, ringing like thunder

Dying with choking screams and soaking the ground with their blood.

Silas wrote his best poems here.

Twenty-five centuries passing like shadows

Silas the poet still lives, standing on the city bridge, looking out into the lights

Seeing lovers walk hand in hand, deciding if he should jump or not.

Seeing the angry dying with a choking scream

On busy streets, in the arms of strangers,

The lonely driven insane by loneliness.

Pick up a pen and write of love that was never found

Of kindness that was never received

Poems are the children of the angry and mad, the ones not chosen,

Those who tried to hold another and were left

To lie awake at midnight cursing at the moon.

These are the poets.


A walk home

Walking home from a meeting,

Where a man had screamed at us, telling us how to vote

And who, in those greedy seats of power,

We were told, had the best interests of the people at heart,

I saw a mechanic at work in a small garage on the edge of town.

The sun was dipping low, the clouds were red and yellow

And the tall, thin man, covered in the black blood of automobiles

Slowly stepped out from under a car lifted high

And switched on his lights so he could see by.

How hard he works, I thought,

Long hours and hard labour

I could see the lines on his face,

The hardness of his skin

The thin hungry look he had,

No tax funded office, no chauffeured car.

Long hours into the night, oil, and bleeding knuckles.

Her Beauty

Her beauty spills the wine from my cup

it brings the tide upon the shore

it burns the forests

it keeps God interested

it breaks the ice apart.

She sits there, her legs crossed

and my eyes wander across her thighs

like little men climbing to the moon.

But if she but laugh or wink

that haughty moon would crash into the sea

crushing all, crushing me.

The lights in her eyes

At university

I took a few English literature classes.

I would sit in the same seat each week, usually alone

But I would read all the texts

I would hand in all the assessments

And I did well.

I loved the poems, the novels, the short stories.

I took a subject called literature and the screen.

Every Wednesday night the class would attend the campus cinema

To study a movie on that big screen.

I met her on the first night

She had dark black hair and sat just behind me

Her face was gentle like an angel’s

And beautiful.

The dark cinema, would throw pure white light upon her

showing her brown eyes.

She wore woollen tops, and the sleeves would be pulled down over her hands

She wore jeans that hugged her beautifully.

We would talk in the darkness

And she would make me laugh

Her perfection would burn me inside

And each night I would think of her, counting down the days until I saw her again.

I never asked her out, I don’t even remember her name,

But I think of her often.

That I was too shy to tell her how I felt

Still haunts me.

I wonder what she is doing now,

Do you wonder what is happening to those you loved?

I hope all those old loves are happy,

And may they live forever in our hearts.




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Kindness of the saints

The maniac Simon Freidland creeps along the city street; his pants splashed with mud.

A tattered coat little defence against the cold, he sleeps on a mattress outside the train station,

His beloved wife left him when the money ran out, and the booze took hold.

He saw Saint Patrick last night

Between the Woolworths and the liquor store.

The Saint had nodded and understood all at once

How unfair life had become and this kindness of the Saint filled Simon with a warmth

That faded into a soft light at two a.m. just as the gentle rain began to fall.


Simon’s wife, only blocks away on the thirtieth floor of a high rise building

Rolls over in the warm bed

And runs her hand between her legs and along her belly.

He is in the bathroom and in this moment of reflection,

She looks in the mirror and thinks how time has rushed away

She holds back a tear

But the emptiness inside pains her.

What she has lost will not be found with different men each night.


Andrew stands in the bathroom and wonders about his health.

It has started to sting when he urinates

And sometimes sores appear on his body.

He has told no one. His mind goes to the woman in his apartment,

Lying in his bed.

He didn’t know her five hours ago and now she is spending the night.

He knows how to convince women to take their clothes off

But he can’t remember the date of his son’s birth.


Andrew’s mother lies quietly in her bed a state away,

In the morning she will be dead. She has been sick lately and now old age can take no more.

She dreams of the Virgin Mary, whose gentle actions and thoughts save the souls of tired sinners.

What dreams do the dying dream? She once wondered

And now, in her final hours she discovers. They are sad dreams, lonely dreams

No different to any of the dreams she has had before.

When that dream ends, she dreams Andrew has come home to see her for this last moment.

The lonely room within this quiet house will hold her safe while she fades away.

On my mind

It’s the sweet things in life

The new things

The first time you see her after work,

Or seeing things make her happy, that beautiful smile.

Seeing her undress in the soft lights of dark night

In the room together with the world shut out.

It’s the gentle words she has for you alone,

The fear she has that you’ll leave

That makes you feel so secure

And happy.

The story she tells you about the time some other guy did something so bad

And you just know you’d never do that to her.

It was the time she watched her favourite movie with you and she cried

And held you so tight

Because she loves to touch you; Loves to be with you.

I’m sure nearly everyone gets the same happy feeling sometime in their life

And no matter what color they are, what they believe, or who they like,

It’s that happy feeling that makes life great

And I’m glad for whoever gets to feel that

And sad for anyone that doesn’t.